The Bosatsu Jizo and Ten Kings of Hell

Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 1185-1333
Color and gold on silk
H x W (image): 88 x 39.6 cm (34 5/8 x 15 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Buddhism, cintamani, hell, Japan, kakemono, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), king, siddham script

To 1903
Yamanaka & Company, to 1903 [1]

From 1903 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company in 1903 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

[1] Undated folder sheet note. Also see Original Kakemono List, pg. 88, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. The majority of Charles Lang Freer’s purchases from Yamanaka & Company were made at its New York branch. Yamanaka & Company maintained branch offices, at various times, in Boston, Chicago, London, Peking, Shanghai, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. During the summer, the company also maintained seasonal locations in Newport, Bar Harbor, and Atlantic City.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917-1965


The bosatsu (bodhisattva) Jizo is one of the most easily recognized figures in Japanese Buddhist iconography. The young, demure, shaven-pate monk was revered as a manifestation of the Buddha's concern and compassion for children, warriors, travelers, women in childbirth, and those suffering in hell. In the period of social chaos and warfare that swept through Japan in the late twelfth century and again in the fourteenth century, the cult of Jizo expanded widely, and his image can be observed in a variety of settings in both painting and sculpture.

In this image Jizo presides over the assembly of the Ten Kings of Hell. This panel of judges (a concept imported from China--thus the robes of Chinese jurisprudence) meted out penalties to those condemned to hell. Here the dominant figure of Jizo seems to remind the judges to temper their rulings with mercy and to always be aware of the Buddha's pervasive compassion.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 69, vol. 2: p. 173.
  • Yuko Kawaguchi. Furia hon Jizo Juo... no. 59, July 1981. p. 46.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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